Archive for October, 2014

Whiting not Sprats (Correction)

October 30, 2014

The shore is covered with dead whiting (Merlangius merlangus) after the storm:

Sprats 2Sprat 1Clearly they are not to the gulls’ taste. There was an otter along the shore this morning this morning though they did not seem to his taste either.

Thanks to Aisling Smith of the Marine Biological Association for the i.d.

Nearer Home

October 29, 2014

Along the road not far from home today I spotted a good clump of Stellaria graminea (Lesser Stitchwort) in the same spot as I saw it three years ago. This may be the only extant specimen on Raasay. A little farther on was a single plant of Tropaeolum majus (Nasturtium) with flowers still on it – despite a frost last week.  This garden escape/throw-out is a first record for VC104. There is a 2004 record from Barra which lies in Plant Hardiness Zone 9a with average winter temperatures that this plant is expected to survive. Raasay lies in the next zone, 8b, so it will be interesting to see how it does.

See Plant Hardiness Zone Map of the British Isles.


October 29, 2014

About ten days ago Helen & Kate found a single specimen of Prunus padus (Bird Cherry) in Raasay SSSI near Screapadal whilst undertaking woodland condition monitoring.  Yesterday I went to try and find it but failed. In between their visit and mine the storms had removed most of the leaves from most of the trees, which didn’t help.  I shall have to have another try in the flowering season next year.

The reason this is noteworthy is that the only previous records of this tree as a native on Raasay are from Brochel woods by the shore in 1903 (Harvie-Brown) and somewhere unspecified in the southern part of Raasay in 1957 by Mary McCallum Webster.  (It has been planted as part of a native tree planting mixture on Raasay and Fladday.)

However, it was an interesting day…. on my way to Screapadal I watched a small landslip from the first few pebbles to the more serious lumps of ground falling just above the path. I was too slow getting the camera out to take a video.

The Aftermath

The Aftermath

There was Moehringia trinervia (Three-nerved Sandwort) still in flower:

Moehringia trinervia

Moehringia trinervia

This plant is known from a number of sites on Raasay and Eigg and there is an old record from Rum, but it has never been recorded on Skye.

Screapadal was looking good in the autumn sun, and we needed a fine day or two after the recent storm:



and there were good fungi about.

Cup Fungus

Bracket Fungus - awaiting help with i.d.

Bracket Fungus – awaiting help with i.d.

Oh yes, and there was Alder Tongue Gall on the alders

Aliens in Portree, Natives Elsewhere

October 19, 2014

The Phalaris canariensis (Canary-grass) is confirmed from Portree – presumably having arisen from birdseed. The possible Poa imbecilla (Weak Poa) is not, the referee saying “I think it may be Poa nemoralis but I am not sure as it is very small and immature.”

Jean-François has been sending me images of his trip to Skye in late September. One that caused me trouble for a while was this one:

P1050582 - Copie

Photo: J-F Olivier

But with a little help from my friends (Thanks Lynne & Carl) I have decided that it is Persicaria vivipara (Alpine Bistort) with unusually broad basal leaves.

More from Talisker Bay

October 19, 2014

I took a couple of videos of the sands on my camera:

Talsker Bay Sands 1

Talisker Bay Sands 2

They are unretouched – the sand really is black and the spume white.

Later: Julian tells me that he used the sands on an album cover Written in Sand.

“Twenty-plume Moth”

October 17, 2014

This fellow is on our DVD player right now:


Alucita hexadactyla

Keith, who identified it for me says “the Latin name gives a more accurate count than the English one”.

An example of a micro-moth attracted to a micro-light? Attracted to the light-emitting diodes, anyway.

Talisker Bay

October 9, 2014

Part of my Agrimony Tour was a visit to Talisker Bay. As well as some of the previously known but interesting plants I noticed Sycamore Tarspot (Rhytisma acerinum) around Talisker House, Ergot (Claviceps purpurea) on Lolium perenne (Perennial Rye-grass) near the shore and lots of galls on Rosa spinosissima (Burnet Rose) that are caused by the gall wasp Diplolepis spinosissimae:

Diplolepis spinosissimae

Diplolepis spinosissimae gall


Talk on Friday

October 6, 2014

Duncan talkSadly, I can’t make it.

Scottish Botany Meeting on 1st November

October 2, 2014

For those who do not know, you are very welcome to join the the 2014 BSBI / BSS* Scottish Annual Meeting to be held at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh on Saturday 1st November. There is a full and varied programme of talks and interesting exhibits and posters. Our main speaker is Professor Jonathan Silvertown, the man who developed iSpot, who will give a talk entitled “Re-inventing botany in a networked world”. Everyone with an interest in Scottish botany is very welcome. Click here for further information, booking forms and to pay online if you want dinner.

*Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland / Botanical Society of Scotland

Great Tussocks and New Centaury

October 2, 2014

As well as my own activities, Deirdre directed me to a new site for Carex paniculata (Greater Tussock-sedge) in an otherwise unexciting area of moor – a strong healthy group of large tussocks, better than anywhere else currently known on Skye.

Morag has found Centaurium erythraea (Common Centaury) by the Varragill River south of Portree – a long way from any previously known site.

Marion added a new site for Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort) near Greep.

Steve has sent in his September records including a new place for Agrimonia procera (Frgrant Agrimony) at Elgol:

Agrimonia procera + grasshopper Photo S. Terry

Agrimonia procera + froghopper           Photo S. Terry

Other notable finds include records for Drosera x obovata (Obovate Sundew (D. rotundifolia x anglica)), Lycopus europaeus (Gypsywort), Myosotis scorpioides (Water Forget-me-not) – a plant much over-recorded in the past, Sparganium erectum (Branched Bur-reed) – a plant much under-recorded until recently, and Utricularia intermedia sens. lat. (Intermediate Bladderwort).

The froghopper has been identified by Stephen M. as Philaenus spumarius, the bug whose nymphs produce cuckoo-spit.